Sports interns share inside look at Spurs 5th title coverage


SAN ANTONIO – While the city of San Antonio was busy celebrating the Spurs 5th NBA Championship Sunday night, KSAT was busy bringing viewers all the excitement live on TV.

The sports interns were given a first hand look at the news team's efforts and shared their experiences below.

Danielle VanDeWalle

Sports Producers Daniel Villanueva, Mike Klein and Alex Martinez are always on their toes, especially during the Spurs game. A sports producer is an all-in-one package. They have to edit, write and decide what's going on the air within a certain amount of time, in this case, the span of the game. Each producer's job is very important and affects the whole show.

Mike is the driver. During the game, he is writing and editing for Instant Coverage that follows immediately after the game on ABC. During the show, he is in the control room telling the directors what to air and how to present it based on the rundown that Daniel sent him.

Daniel is the guy with the map. If it wasn't for him, no one would know where to go if they took a wrong turn. Daniel has to prepare a rundown whether the Spurs win or lose. If the Spurs lose, he has a backup plan drawn out that not only focuses on the Spurs, but the other teams highlights as well.

Alex is the backseat driver (in a good way). He focuses on other sporting events of the day. Alex helps turn around podium and locker room feeds.

As for me, an intern, I'm kid in the backseat that points out everything they see outside. I log the game and write down all the plays, who scored, the final score, and the replays.

So, if it wasn't for everyone's contribution on Sunday, the show would not have run as smoothly and would not have been as successful.

Going into work on Sunday, I didn't think I would be doing anything more than just going in logging. Well that night turned into anything but ordinary.

Typically, when the game starts, that's when my night starts and it ends about 2 hours later when I am finished logging sound. However, Sunday was not a typical game night. That night didn't start until the game reached 00:00 in the fourth quarter and the Spurs were the Champions. Once the game was over, Daniel had me go up to the very top of the station and video the car honks. I'm pretty sure every single car in San Antonio was honking that night because there was not one moment of silence the whole 20 minutes I was up there, and that was just the start of the fans craziness that was to follow. When I came back down, Daniel had me go to the control room and observe the producers and directors put on Instant Coverage.

No amount of time or written script could have prepared someone for how the show was going to go. They followed the same structure as usual but there were curve balls being thrown left and right. The sports anchors were at the AT&T Center doing live interviews with the players. Several reporters were downtown filming the fans. Others were at Academy filming the lines piling up for the 2014 Spurs Championship gear. Some had to go to Express News to pick up the "hot-off-the-press" newspaper, and Sky 12 filmed Commerce being shut down and flooding with people. There were people at all ends of San Antonio and they were filming live.

The producers and directors back at the station made sure they aired everything that was happening in order to capture all the excitement. While they were running the show, they would get feedback from the photographers over at the AT&T Center, for instance, saying that Greg Simmons, Larry Ramirez, or David Sears was getting a one-on-one with one of the players. The interviews in the locker room were not live but had to be sent back to the station after which Daniel had to cut and edit them so they could be aired no more than 2 minutes later.

However, the interviews on the court were off-script and it was kind of luck-of-the-draw on whoever walked up and started talking to Greg. In one of the interviews he was doing, David Robinson walked up mid-interview. Knowing that was rare, the directors and producers went with their gut and stayed with Greg rather than going to Tony Parker live at the podium.

Not previously aware of how crazy it gets in the control room, I was talking to Bernice Kearney, the Station's News Director, and she was telling me that when the Spurs won the Championship in the past they were on air until 1:30-2 in the morning. Considering that is 4 hours past my bedtime, my mind was blown on how dedicated the producers and directors are here. At the station, you couldn't have guessed how late it was based on everyone's energy and dedication. While all of that was happening in the control room, the anchors were in the studio waiting to go live from the station.

Even though some of the anchors and reporters are not part of the Sports Department, everyone in the station was involved with the win. I got the chance to sit in the studio and watch Steve Spriester and Isis Romero do part of the show. I remember when a commercial break was ending, they were warned that 30 seconds were left until they were back on and the both responded "okay," then immediately following they both asked in sync, "What are we talking about??" Even though they were told 30 seconds before they were about to go on, they made it seem like they had planned their script hours before. I was amazed at how composed they were.

Sunday night could have ended completely differently if it weren't for everyone's hard work. With how crazy and hectic everything was outside, inside seemed like a completely different world. It was calm and professional. It is obvious at KSAT that everyone respects each other and trusts that they are doing their job, which is a reflection on how successful the station is. Not only am I lucky enough to have this internship and the learning experiences that come with it, but I was able to experience the Spurs win the Championship on a whole different level. I know that all the mental notes I took that night will stick with me forever and help with a successful career.

Tyler Stevenson

Although the Spurs were winning their 5th title, there was very little celebration at the station. Out of the past month I've been at KSAT, the night the Spurs won the championship was the busiest I've seen.

While I watched every second of the game, keeping track of the score and stats, the sports producers hardly glanced at the television. Since the Spurs were dominating the Heat for a majority of the game, the producers were preparing coverage for the championship celebration in addition to working on normal postgame coverage. In order to do both, they were writing scripts and editing highlights at a rapid pace. Obviously, the Spurs winning the championship was the biggest news in town, so they had to make sure they had instant coverage as soon as the game ended. However, unlike after a typical win, this coverage lasted well into the night.

Since there was non-stop Spurs coverage, I went in the control room to watch the all the producers choose what shots they wanted to go on air. There was so much happening inside the AT&T Center and on Commerce Street that they needed about six people in the control room to monitor everything. It was crazy in there because in addition to monitoring all the cameras, they also had to figure out appropriate times to cut to commercial break. When there's Greg Simmons interviewing David Robinson and Avery Johnson, Larry Ramirez interviewing Tim Duncan in the locker room, and David Sears getting one-on-ones with players, it's difficult to decide how long to let each interview air before cutting to something else. But in my opinion, the most difficult thing for the producers to capture were the reporters on Commerce Street. Reporters on Commerce Street were surrounded by thousands of screaming fans, so it was difficult to hear them speaking. But the fact that we couldn't really hear the reporters speaking emphasized the atmosphere on Commerce Street and made an interesting visual.

After I escaped the control room, the final thing I did was watch Isis Romero and Steve Spriester anchor the coverage from the studio. It was a much calmer atmosphere than the control room, as the pair sat at the desk and watched the newscast from multiple flat screens and waited for their turn to go on air. At this point, it was a little after midnight and there was so sign that they were going off the air anytime soon. Even though it was late, both anchors were still poised and energetic, which I imagine is hard when you're talking about the same subject for hours. KSAT's coverage ended at 1 a.m., and they accomplished their goal of being the last TV station on air.

In the end, everyone at KSAT worked hard to cover the Spurs historic fifth title and to make the viewers at home feel they were apart of it. It was a day I'll never forget because not only did my favorite team win the championship, but I was also able to be a professional and cover it.